Do You Really Need Pediatric Pads?

Keith Hildebrandt

Whether you have an existing AED program, or you are interested in starting one, the question will come up, “Do you really need pediatric pads?”  This article will help you determine if pediatric pads are suitable for your AED program.


Q: What is the difference between pediatric AED pads and standard adult AED pads?

A: Pediatric defibrillator pads are smaller than adult pads so that they fit better to a child’s body.  But, the biggest difference is the energy delivery.  Depending on the AED, adult dosage may start at 120 joules of energy and can go as high as 360 joules. But, when in pediatric mode, the AED will reduce the energy delivered to between 50 and 90 joules. The reduction in the energy delivered is activated when the pediatric pads are connected to the AED device.


Q: Why do children require different AED pads than adults?

A: Children are smaller and their bodies have less mass than an adult, so they don’t require as much energy to resuscitate.  By decreasing the energy delivered, the AED is applying therapy more appropriate for a child’s size.  Additionally, adults and children have several physiological differences. Adult AED pads are too large to apply to a small child or infant; pediatric pads are designed to fit a smaller body. Pediatric patients also have different heart rhythms than adults. The pediatric settings on defibrillators can detect the difference and treat them accordingly.


Q: Who should purchase pediatric pads?

A: Qualify the facility in which the AED will be located. Ask questions such as: Are there currently children under 55lbs? Will there be for any specific events that young children may attend such as fairs, field trips, etc.? Will co-workers bring children to work frequently? Will the defibrillator be accessible for public use?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to consider purchasing pediatric pads.


Q: How do you use pediatric pads on a child in cardiac arrest?

A: Pediatric pads provide clear concise instructions on the packaging. For most AED devices, if adult pads are pre-connected to the AED, unplug them and set them aside.  Then, plug the pediatric pads in.  If the AED accepts a pediatric key, you simply insert the key and use the adult pads that are already connected.  To apply pediatric pads, place the anterior pad on the center of the child’s chest. Then, place the posterior pad onto the center of the child’s back. The AED will then begin analysis and recommend next steps.


Q: When should I replace my pediatric pads?

A: Just like adult AED pads, pediatric pads will expire. Gel on the pads will dry out over time and may not allow for good adhesion to the skin.  Pediatric pads typically will last about two years before they have to be replaced.  The pads expiration date can be found on the packaging of the pads.


More information can be found at American Heart Association Pediatric Information.

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2 responses to “Do You Really Need Pediatric Pads?”

  1. Doctor Lock writes:

    Which is better to use on a child in an emergency, An AED that has new adult pads that haven’t expired and are still sealed in the bag or pediatric pads that have expired a few years but still sealed in the bag?

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  2. Keith Hildebrandt writes:

    The American Heart Association’s position is that if child pads are not available, use adult pads. If the child pads have expired, they may not adhere to the patient, so the adult pads should be used.

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